Cyber bullying goes too far

Two prominent Australian personalities have recently become the victims of cyber bullying.

Cyber bullying goes too far

Two prominent Australian personalities have recently become the victims of cyber bullying with Australia's Next Top Model judge Charlotte Dawson and West's Tigers rugby league captain Robbie Farah both being sent extremely vile, harassing messages on the social network Twitter.

Unlike Mr Farah who was targeted by one anonymous Twitter account, Charlotte Dawson was the subject of a number of different tweets from several accounts. One of the accounts tweeting appalling messages to Ms Dawson was from a Monash University staff member who identified herself in her profile. She has now been suspended by the university due to the incident.

Earlier this week, Mr Farah provided a report to the New South Wales police who are looking into the matter and Mr Farah has received large amounts of support for his stand on cyber bullying. NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell has urged the police to pursue the matter and written to the acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan to seek a review of the current Commonwealth telecommunication laws.

These incidents come only four months after a Welsh university student was jailed in the UK for 56 days after tweeting racially offensive comments targeting a soccer player who collapsed during a game.

Read more from the Sydney Morning Herald.

Opinion - A culture of bullying

Big boys don’t cry and toughen up princess are terms which would be familiar to almost every male who has grown up in Australia. Bullying starts at a young age and, if the behaviour isn’t corrected during high school, it becomes an acceptable course of action later in life. I was the victim of bullying every day of high school and did not report it. Why? My mindset was that reporting bullying is not something real men do, we are meant to ‘face it like a man’ and to ride it out. I look back now and feel stupid for thinking this way but, when there seemed to be few resources available to help me with the issues and even fewer reasons to report a bully, the taunts slowly began to mean less and less and I rode it out.

The internet has introduced another form of bully, the anonymous ‘troll’ who can do or say anything they want without any danger of being tracked down provided they possess very basic computer hacking skills. The tweets sent out to Robbie Farah and Charlotte Dawson were horrible and the people sending these tweets should feel the full force of the law, but there is not much hope with the current cyber laws and, more importantly, how these matters are handled. There is a distinct lack of information available concerning your rights and if anyone can do anything about cyber bullying. This becomes most evident when you read the Sydney Morning Herald article about Charlotte Dawson’s cyber bullying incident. The article finishes with If you are subjected to cyber bullying, visit or call Lifeline on 131 114.” So, according to the newspaper, instead of reporting the incident, you are expected to seek help to cope with the issues.

A quick Google search of a number of different terms including ‘How can I report a cyber bully’ revealed a lack of information available to victims. The Australian Federal Police website did not give any contact information for victims of cyber bullying and the informational website which is a joint initiative between Ninemsn, Microsoft, the Australian Federal Police and a few other organisations also did not provide a contact for victims of cyber bullying. Instead, the website provided sources of help and advice and advised, in extreme cases, to contact your local police station.

Much like criminals, cyber bullies continue to strike until they are stopped. More effort needs to be put into preventing cyber bullying in Australia and there needs to be more help and police co-operation provided to the victims.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    11th Sep 2012
    Unfortunately bullying in any form seems to be increasing and needs to be stopped. Just slapping them on the wrist is insufficient.
    However, attempts to stop it in schools are failing for several reasons.
    Schools are afraid to take action in case it give the school a bad repurtation or that the parent/s will not listen.
    Private schools fear cuts in donations, etc.
    Another factor is that sometimes the bullying commences in the home and this is the role model the children learn from.
    If the family believes it is ok then you can expect tyhe children to continue with it, i.e. Mum or Dad do it so it must be ok.
    Again the parents have learnt it from their parentsd and so it goes on.
    We need to change the culture of this sort of behaviour and it will take some time to evolve in behaviours that give respect and consideration to others. If what you are about to do is hurtful to others then don't do it.
    11th Sep 2012
    It should be corrected in primary school, no later.
    In come cases parents don't believe their child is a bully, in others use something as an excuse. (I know of one such case). In one case at our school it was the Headmaster's son. I was teased and bullied during my early school years because I was shy and have "red" hair.
    A relative of ours had a situation where one of their children was being bullied into stealing her Mother's cigarettes and taking them to school for the particular student. The child was very quiet all weekend but wouldn't tell any of us what was wrong. The younger one told her Grandma who relayed it to her Dad. He explained to her that she would not have got into trouble for telling them. They reported it to the school on the following Monday morning.
    11th Sep 2012
    Bullies are sad inadequate (always moral & physical cowards) persons.
    It is said that the bullied never forget and the bully never remembers,
    I recall a boy who being quite large for his age, but lacking in brains who relentlessly bullied and tormented many ( me included ) kids at our school sadly for him he ceased growing and even 40 years on I hear he gets assaulted and humiliated by his former victims which of course is no more than this thing deserves...

    I would very much prefer to have a thief for a child than a loathsome bully. arbee75
    11th Sep 2012
    Can anyone tell me why we have to have twitter etc?
    I grew too a ripe old age of 79 without it and still lived a full and satisfying life.
    11th Sep 2012
    I have to admit that I love twitter. You can have a very open discussion on many different topics with hundreds of people who live in the same state. I would describe it as a "super forum". It also allowed me to link up with other like minded (Geelong Cats fans) to find people to attend matches with as none of my 'real life' friends go for the team.
    11th Sep 2012
    I agree with Oldie. There is an off switch or better still dont subscibe to twitter or facebook.
    Modern society has taught us that we cant survive without it. Absolute Garbage. Turn it off. There is a life without twitter. Gollybear.
    12th Sep 2012
    Giving the facilities of our Smart World to the general public has opened a Pandora's Box which will not be closed.
    Pandora's box - (Greek mythology) a box that Zeus gave to Pandora with instructions that she not open it; she gave in to her curiosity and opened it; all the miseries and evils flew out to afflict mankind
    12th Sep 2012
    I too, am in full agreement with Oldie, re twitter etc why would one wish to confide in a perfect stranger, it would seem to be an open invitation for " The weird" to insult and harass people. The web is great and long may it prosper but as the old saying has it Cyber space is like the wild west without Sheriffs or US Marshals .

    Twitter, Facebook etc seem to me to replicate in a more refined manner the old CB radio craze of the 1970's & 80's when many folk would "put their ears on " log in mostly on car radios, and mindlessly speak to all and sundry discussing all sorts of BS with total strangers usually being assailed with a stream of filth from some other nutter who was listening in to the "conversation"

    Twitter et al is it really required in the scheme of things ??

    arbee 75
    12th Sep 2012
    'It takes all types to make the world.'
    Spanish de todo ha de haber en el mundo (literally, “There must be of all [types] in the world”), Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quijote de la Mancha, translated 1620, Shelton, as “In the world there must surely be of all sorts.” et al.
    'twas ever thus. This just gives wider coverage and effect to particular types. ('Weird' ones? )
    14th Sep 2012

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